< Pillow Hotel
California: The Lighter Side >

California Here We Come: Day 1: We drove to Aunt Pat's house. We stopped in Beullton for lunch at Pea Soup Andersen's, and then went to Solvang so John could see if it was a fun as he remembered (it was). In between, we went to Ostrichland. Cheaper than Disneyland, scarier than Jurassic Park. We fed the ostriches and emus and did not get bit. In Solvang, John got a bear claw and some marzipan and we walked around and looked at the quaintness and windmills.

Day 2: We've both wanted to go to Hearst Castle for a long time, so we finally went. It was $25 each for the bus and tour, rip-off, but it was cool to see. We enjoyed the bus ride and the grounds, especially the fancy pools and seeing his personal zoo polar bear cages! We even spotted the zebras feeding with the cattle.

We also stopped at the elephant seal viewing area to check out those cool creatures. And finally went to Moonstone beach on our way back to Los Osos. The kids and I went sea-glass hunting while John stayed with sleeping Sienna in the car. It was a pretty cool beach. The kids enjoyed playing with their cousins. They colored with Leah and Joel taught Maggie how to play baseball in the backyard. Garry and Joan drove down to see us, also. Garry and Sienna have the same reddish blond hair. I hope I get a strawberry girl!

Day 3: We drove to San Francisco. Since rain was predicted for Monday, we decided to do one of our activities earlier and went straight to the Golden Gate Bridge. And of course, it rained on us. We walked about 1/4 of the way in the rain and wind and still enjoyed it, even thought we couldn't see much. After, we went to Leonard and Jeff's and had a great dinner made by Jeff.

Day 4: We headed up to Muir Woods, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge (Maggie's favorite part) and not realizing we needed Dramamine. Both kids threw up just as we were arriving. Ugh. We had to park reallllly far from the parking lot. John took the kids in the umbrella stroller (which died on the way) and I finished cleaning out the car and carried Sienna. We bought Dalton a new shirt, then enjoyed the trees on a 1 mile walk.

After the hike, we went to Fisherman's Wharf where we had soup in bread bowls at Boudin, went for a walk, and bought candy at a candy shop. We parked on top of a parking structure so we had great views of the city and the bay, which was finally clear. Another great dinner by Jeff greeted us when we got back.

Day 5: Tuesday we headed to Yosemite. We stopped at Costco for provisions. We were the first in the family to arrive at the cabins, and made dinner for everyone. John did a treasure hunt for the little kids.

Day 6: We drove into Yosemite Valley, went on a very long walk to the Yosemite Falls. John took each of the kids scrambling on the large rocks at the base of the falls, which was very exciting. A highlight of the trip for all three of them. We ate a packed lunch, then went to Bridalveil Fall. More rock scrambling.

Day 7: On Thursday, we got up early and drove to Curry Village to do the Vernal Fall hike. This was adults and nursing babies only. Maggie and Dalton stayed behind with Grandma, Sabrina, Kyli and Morgan to play with. Dalton followed Sabrina around, and Maggie really enjoyed playing checkers with Morgan. The cabin had some awesome swings in the trees, and lots to do outside, so they all had fun.

The hike was awesome. A moderate climb up to the base of the fall. Then, we began climbing steps carved into the granite cliffs, under the spray of the water. We were worried it wouldn't be safe to carry the babies up the steps but it turned out fine. It was a hard climb, though. At the top, there was an emerald pool, and plenty of shady spots to rest and have a snack. Then we had to climb back down all those big steps. We got back to the cabins around 2, but were too exhausted to do much else. John, Sienna, Jamie, Dave and I went for a drive on the cabin dirt road to find the nearest river. It took a lot longer than we thought.

Day 8: Finally a lazy day. Half the group drove down to see Sequoia trees. We, Franco and Jodi decided to have a more relaxing day. We drove to Glacier Point and had lunch and popsicles there. Did a little bit of boulder climbing for the kids, and enjoyed the amazing view, including the view of Vernal Fall where we had just hiked. We were planning to do a short hike, but John and Franco had sore backs and the kids were whiny and it was hot, so we gave up on that. Instead we went to Bridalveil Fall, and played in the pools of the stream. The kids had so much fun splashing around. The last stop was another tour of the valley, and a stop at the gift shop to buy a Christmas ornament and a magnet. We had a really great time hanging out with Jodi and Franco that day.

Day 9: The drive home. We left about 10:45 and got home by 7. We stopped at Dewar's in Bakersfield, but it was 111 degrees, so we didn't stay long. We just wanted to get home. Thanks to John for doing most of the driving. He had me drive for a while, but I had taken a Dramamine in the morning and I was SO tired!

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